Blockchain, Bowie....everything you need for the future
It will crush every single idea we have of what value exchange mediums are all about.

David Bowie predicted in 1999 the impact of the Internet in BBC interview
Amazing how Davie Bowie predicted in BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman in 1999 the huge impact of the Internet in society and the new ways of expression, art and communication while Jeremy Paxman looks

David Bowie predicted the essence and impact of the internet in 1999. He was a visionary and regarded as one of the greatest artists of our time, but little do people know, he was also a genius in more than just music.

In this interview in with The BBC's Jeremy Paxman, he captures the essence  and the power contained within what was then skeptically viewed as "just" a message-delivery system. He accurately predicted the unimaginable potential of the internet not just as a conveyor of information, but a conveyor of rebellion. Jeremey also perfectly represents the other side of the story, the skeptic everyday person who resists change.

I want to explore that analogy and compare it to today, 20 years later, in the nascent world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency along with the significance of Bitcoin's emergence just  ten years after that video came out.

In the entire video, you can see the struggle on the face of the interviewer, the pained expression of trying to grasp something beyond his comprehension as he tries to get into that same headspace as Bowie.

That, or he thought David was on some real strong trippy shit.

Rock and Roll and Rebellion

When  asked about being a musician, specifically Rock and Roll, David Bowie  had a very interesting analogy to make, one that most people have already forgotten in this new millennium: that Rock and Roll was originally about rebellion. And even more interesting was how he jumped  from Rock and Roll to the Internet as the new flag-carrier for the  spirit of revolution.

David said:

"…it  had kind of like, a call to arms kind of feeling to it, like this is  the thing that will change things, a dead-dodgy kind of occupation to  have. It still produced signs of horror from people when you said "I'm  in rock and roll." Now it's a career opportunity, and the Internet now  carries that flag, for the subversive and chaotic, nihilistic and…"

Rock and Roll and Rebellion

When asked about being a musician, specifically Rock and Roll, David Bowie had a very interesting analogy to make, one that most people have already forgotten in this new millennium: that Rock and Roll was originally about rebellion. And even more interesting was how he jumped from Rock and Roll to the Internet as the new flag-carrier for the spirit of revolution.

David said:

"…it  had kind of like, a call to arms kind of feeling to it, like this is  the thing that will change things, a dead-dodgy kind of occupation to  have. It still produced signs of horror from people when you said "I'm  in rock and roll." Now it's a career opportunity, and the Internet now  carries that flag, for the subversive and chaotic, nihilistic and…"

Interviewer: "What you like about it is the fact that anyone can say anything? Or do anything?!"

This was the biggest argument against the Internet back then —  everyone can say anything or do anything or be anything, therefore, it won't work. It is a great underestimation of the power of the individual  when expressed through a collective network.

David Bowie responds:

"From where  I am, by virtue of the fact that I'm a pop singer and writer, I really,  like, I embrace the idea, that there is this demystification process  going on between the artist and the audience.
Now  it's a communal kind of thing , it's about the community, it's becoming  more more about the audience, because the point of having somebody who  "led the forces" has disappeared! Because the vocabulary of rock is too  well-known, as a currency it is not devoid of meaning anymore. It's only  a conveyor of information, not a conveyor of rebellion.
—  And internet has taken on that, as I say, and so I find that a terribly  exciting idea, so from my standpoint being an artist, I'd like to see  what the new construction is between artists and audience. It's almost  like the artist is to accompany what the audience is doing, and that  feeling is very much permeating the internet.

A Demystification Process

Let's analyze that statement for a bit. Bowie talked about the demystification process going on between the artist and the audience due to the Internet's ability to breakdown the importance of the artist versus that of the audience, where the audience now becomes as important, if not more important, than the artists themselves.

When the world of money and finance started to become global, the rise of  institutional financial gatekeepers have become personified and glorified in the role of banks and bankers. Banks were the most revered  institutions of the new industrial era, providing credit, savings, and  safekeeping of our wealth and assets. If you wanted a good and stable  job, find work in a bank. Up until the 80s and 90s, this was a common  narrative.

In this context, banks are the artists (and maybe  the record label), and everyone else is the audience. Big banks "led the  forces" and had vast amounts of power and influence over society. They still do to this day, but the coming of age of the internet and the vast  improvement in the interface between the user and the network is rapidly changing all that. Fintech, Insuretech, Regtech, mobile payment platforms and the like have come out strong in the last decade, and the customer is now as important, if not more important, than the institutions themselves. New applications using technology have begun to  show us that these revered institutions have been sleeping on the job,  and that they have been too slow to adapt to the changing needs of their  audience.

Going back to the interviewer, he again mentions what he believes to be the absurd idea that

"anyone can say or do anything":
"But what is it  specifically about the internet? Anybody can say anything… but it all  adds up to what? There is nothing cohesive about it in the way there was something cohesive about the youth revolution in music…"

Here we go again, that same narrative. "If anyone can say anything, it must be worthless, it will be meaningless." If anyone can  say or do anything in a way that it becomes censorship-resistant, with permission-less access, then nothing will come out of it except chaos. This could not be further from the truth, and David knew that, with conviction.

Bitcoin's invention allowed anyone in the world to "say anything" in the context of commerce and value exchange, the same way the internet did in the context of communication and information exchange.

David responds:

"Oh but absolutely! Because I believe that, at the time, up until at least the mid-70s, we really felt that we were still living under the guise of a single and absolute creative society where there were known truths and known lies, and was no kind of duplicity of pluralism about  the things that we believed in. That i started to breakdown rapidly in the 70s and the idea of a duality in the way that we live, in there are  always two, three, four, five sides to every question that the  singularity disappeared, and that, I believe, has produced such a medium  as the internet and it absolutely establishes and shows us that we are  living in total fragmentation."

The Breakdown of the Singularity

Up until 2008, we were still living under the guise of a single and absolute financial society where there were known truths and known lies, and nothing can be questioned. This started to break down in the midst  of the confusion caused by on of the biggest financial meltdowns in  modern history and the house of cards that fell along with it. Suddenly, we realized that there are two, three, four, five sides to every question, and that monopoly disappeared forever.

It produced an entirely new medium in the form of Bitcoin, as a new kind of software, a new kind of network, a new kind of money, and a new subversive idea that came out of nowhere and completely demystified the relationship between the gatekeepers of money and the consumers of  money. Things like blockchains, consensus algorithms, and peer-to-peer  networks showed us that the emperor had no clothes, and that we are  living in total fragmentation because of all the trust we gave to these institutions.

Interviewer: "You  don't think that some of the claims that are being made for it are  hugely exaggerated, I mean, when the telephone was invented people made amazing claims for it —

David interjects:

I know! The President at the time, he was outrageous! He said he foresaw the day in the future when EVERY TOWN in America will have a telephone. Now that, how dare he claim that, absolute bullshit (Sarcasm). So, no, I don't agree, I think the internet — I don't think we have even seen the tip of the iceberg.

"I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society,  both good an bad, is unimaginable! I think we are actually on the cusp  of something exhilarating AND terrifying." he says.

Interviewer: (Still looking exasperated) It's just a tool isn't it?!

"No, it's not. No, it's an alien life form… Is there life on Mars? YES, and it just landed here." Says David.

Bitcoin, The Alien Life Form

Right now, some of the claims about the potential of Bitcoin as a new decentralized global monetary standard or how blockchain technology will change our fundamental understanding of trade, ownership, and trust seems hugely exaggerated, and rightfully so. Just like the early days of the internet, there is a lot of hype in the industry today.

But, like David, we believe that what we are seeing today is not even the tip of the iceberg. We believe that we are on the cusp of something both exhilarating and terrifying, like an alien life form landing on Earth. Bitcoin's impact has barely made a ripple in the coming wave of  innovation and disruption in the world of finance, yet here we are, only  ten years in and moving trillions in value on a global scale, enabling millions of people to transact with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Interviewer: "It's simply just a different delivery system there. You're arguing about something more profound…"

"Oh yeah, I am talking about the actual context and the state of content is going to be so different from anything we can envisage at the  moment, where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico, it's going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about."

Something More Profound

Isn't  Bitcoin just another payment system like VISA or Paypal? Isn't it just another delivery system for money? No, we argue that it is something  much more profound, just like David argued for the Internet in 1999.

We live in a world of digital commerce and value exchange that was  severely limited by the restrictions placed by gatekeepers, where every  action is monitored by a middleman, every participant is vetted by a  process that excludes two-thirds of the world's population from  participating in the global internet economy, because it was the only solution to a problem we could not solve — the double spending problem.

The release of Bitcoin in 2009 gave the world a better practical solution  based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, and it has opened a pandora's box of possibilities that cannot be undone.

The actual context of transactions and the state of the content being exchanged, not just money, but entire classes of value both tangible and  intangible, will be so different from anything we can envisage with our  limited perspective today, where the interplay between the two parties  in a transaction, between the user and provider, senders and receivers, become perfectly in sync with little to no friction.

It is going to crush every single idea we have of what mediums of value exchange are all about.

RIP David Bowie, a real legend.